Comic Review: Batman #50

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Comic Review: Batman #50

Publisher: DC Comics | Writer: Tom King | Art: Mikel Janin, June Chung, Clayton Cowles, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Trish Mulvihill, Becky Cloonan, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson, Frank Miller, Alex Sinclair, Lee Bermejo, Neal Adams, Hi-Fi, Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey, Amanda Conner, Paul Mounts, Rafael Albuquerque, Andy Kubert, Tim Sale, Jose Villarrubia, Paul Pope, Mitch Gerads, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, Ty Templeton, Keiren Smith, Joelle Jones, David Finch, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Greg Capullo, FCO Plascncia, Lee Weeks | Letterer: Clayton Cowlews | Release Date: July 4, 2018 | Price: $4.99

This review contains spoilers.

Coming to terms with Batman

The 50th issue of Batman by Tom King and Mikel Janin is a comic you should read. It might be everything that a comic should be. This issue will be spoiled for many people by now, due to the New York Times article. I won’t go into any major spoilers here, but this review assumes you’ve read the issue.

My introduction to Batman was the 1960’s show. Later came other movies, random comics, video games, and so much merchandise. Batman was always just this cool guy to me and so present in my life throughout the years. Batman was always my go-to hero.

With a liberatory analysis now, Bruce Wayne is just a gentrifying capitalist that embodies white privilege. Building and building up and up where he shouldn’t; it’s pretty gross.

Batman is synonymous with the police. Batman is someone who believes in redemption, but  also in punishment. #CloseArkham! If Batman talked to the right people, he’d be a prison abolitionist, I’m sure of it (fanfic time?), but he’s not.

As much as I’d love for that to be different, I’ve had to grapple and contend with loving a character who will ultimately never change. He is who he is.

That doesn’t mean that Batman hasn’t grown in the years since his first appearance in 1939. He's grown to name his feelings, to touch happiness, and I am grateful for Tom King for writing Batman in such a generous way.

But Batman is Batman and Catwoman is Catwoman and none of that changes here.

A true dedication to character

This issue is a wonderful and gorgeous meditation on their relationship over the last 60 years. Every other page is a splash page by top artistic talent of Batman and Catwoman together, alternatively they narrate their place in each other's lives. It’s worth picking up this issue for the art alone, to see how each artist interprets the pair over the years.

Tom King’s voice is poetic, and while a little overdone at times, gives a tenderness to both characters that establishes that he’s a writer who really wants to honor his characters, who wants to tell the best Batman story he can.  Tom King has done this again and again on his run thus far on Batman, and this issue is no exception.

Readers will be pulled into both characters voices and thoughts, riding along for a ”will they or won’t they.”  My advice is to read this issue slowly. The art deserves pause and contemplation, the scenes in between, leading up to a rooftop ceremony at dawn deserve sitting with. All of their history has come to this moment, and who they are has made them. They chose what they could only ever choose.

Conclusion

Ultimately I find the idea that Batman isn’t allowed certain things because he wouldn’t be Batman with them incredibly limiting. I’m not sure why the character has to be continually tormented instead of heal from trauma. I disagree that his hope is fueled by his pain; I don’t see Batman as a hopeful character.

I am hoping that one day Batman can not only imagine something different, but be something different. That would take a very brave writer. In the meantime I accept Batman for what the character is. I accept Tom King’s vision for Batman and Catwoman, that he loves both characters enough to show that Cat loves Bat enough to let him be.

There’s some fallout that I hope is addressed in Catwoman’s new ongoing series. Ultimately, someone needs to talk about why Catwoman, and her love for Batman, is sacrificed. But maybe this is all we get. There are no status quo shattering character moments, there’s only the Bat and Cat as they’ve always been and always will be.

Review Score: 9

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